Posted Jun 19, 2020 by Anastasia Prokofieva

“Give More Value” and a Few Lessons I Learned When Launching My Online Bookstore for Kids

Under the Success Stories section of our blog, we publish real-life stories of small business owners who run their online stores with Ecwid E-commerce. Here you can get to know fellow merchants and learn from first-hand experience. Have an Ecwid store and want to share your story on our blog? Here’s how to do it.

Today we’d like to introduce you to RJ Rise, a school teacher, rising children’s book author, and an Ecwid merchant. RJ’s teaching experience inspired him to create action and coloring books for kids. Even though it was a completely new niche for RJ, he launched his books, started an online store and mastered social media marketing for his brand. Let’s meet RJ and find out how he did it!

RJ with his book Ultimate 5 Squad

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Why I Decided to Create Books for Children

My name is RJ Rise and I’m the Chief Confidence Booster at Ultimate 5 Squad. I started Ultimate 5 Squad out of necessity: I noticed there was a lack of positive superhero characters in books on the market for children. I knew families regardless of color, or social background deserved to see more black positive superhero characters in books. When children, especially minority children, see themselves represented on print or TV, they instantly recognize it and it boosts their confidence.

At the moment Ultimate 5 Squad has two products. The first one is an action book that boosts self-esteem, helps kids see themselves represented and teaches the importance of teamwork. The second product is a coloring book with fun activities including growth mindset activities. Ultimate 5 Squad is for families with children, and also for organizations that cater to children such as schools.

Ultimate 5 Squad coloring book

How I Created My First Book

Creating my first book was a bit challenging. It’s been close to a two-year process, and I learned a lot during this process of writing a children’s book. I hope what I can share can cut corners for aspiring children authors.

The first stage for me was coming up with a name for the book, the names of the characters, and the general idea behind the story. I wanted to form an idea of what the focus of the story would be. Once I did, that became the driving theme of the book. Then, I reached out to someone with experience to help me add layers to the characters, and develop the environment where the story takes place. We spent weeks answering a lot of questions about not only the roles of the characters but the book.

I would say the longest part was creating illustrations and conveying my ideas clearly to bring them to life. As the illustrations were something that wasn’t in my control, I partnered together with an illustrator. I like his style and attention to detail, we went to work and began the almost ten months of putting it together.

One thing I found important — to give clear and exact examples of what you want the characters, background images, etc. to look like. To help the illustrator know exactly what you want, find images on Google that they can use a reference.

As far as printers, many local shops will print you a copy. I would first visit your local bookstore and see what sizes, colors, binding are popular for your demographic. Buy a book and look at the font, font size, font color, line spacing, word count per page, number of pages, reading level, etc. Really study that book.

After your research, take that book to a local printer and find out how much it will cost to get a sample made for something similar. This step is key for figuring out your overhead cost. And deciding at what price you’ll sell the book in order to make a profit.

First Success

The first major success for Ultimate 5 Squad was watching the orders, in the beginning, go from single digits a week to now seeing daily sales.

Another milestone has been the reviews and conversations we’ve had with customers. Their feedback and happiness with the products are extremely touching! For example, a customer said to me: “I look forward to buying the next book. Thank you for providing an amazing book and inspiration that is needed at this crazy time.”

Getting feedback like this, receiving positive reviews on social media, and welcoming followers on my live read out louds makes me believe that Ultimate 5 Squad is not only a product but also a movement.

How I Sell My Books Online

I decided to sell books online with Ecwid E-commerce because it was presented as an option for non-coders like me. I didn’t need to know coding in order to get my site up, connect it to my social media accounts and start selling.

It took me about one month to understand Ecwid, and then about two weeks after that to get my first sale.

Products in Ultimate 5 Squad online store

Another thing about Ecwid E-commerce that has positively affected my business is that there’s no transaction fees, nor any hidden fees. This allows me to take that money and use it to donate to charities. I believe in not hoarding money but using it for good. Give it forward. It’ll come back.

How I Promote My Books

I promoted the launch of my first book through word of mouth initially. First I told friends and family about Ultimate 5 Squad and then used social media to reach a wider audience.

Social media

Now I promote my store using Facebook and Instagram. Using stories, posts, captions, and graphics help the public understand what you’re all about. I use them to show how we’re different from competitors. When promoting your product, it’s useful to spell out the value you bring, the pains you solve. Social media allows you to do that while also communicating with customers.

Ultimate 5 Squad announces a live stream with RJ on their Facebook page

I created a social media calendar so that I know what content to post throughout the week. As for the imagery, I take pictures myself or use Canva to create the images.

Free downloadable products

Apart from action and coloring books, I offer free downloadable worksheets in my store, created myself using Canva.

When customers order this free downloadable product, they get 11 pages of worksheets in total

These free worksheets help in promoting my business by gaining the trust of my potential clients. Maybe they’re checking me out for the first time out of curiosity. I want to make sure I give them a great special gift. It’s something I could be charging for but I’d rather give it to them and build their trust with the brand.

If you also want to sell downloadable items, you can add a digital product to your Ecwid store. Here’s how it works: you upload a file when creating a product page, and it will be delivered to customers automatically via unique download links after they make a purchase.

Also: How to Create and Sell an Ebook

Tips on Promoting Your First Product

I couldn’t promote my store without my marketing assistant Yullia Konovnitsyna. She’s the brains behind the marketing and website optimization. Between the two of us, we have clear goals and see how best to use Ecwid E-commerce to accomplish those goals.

As a solopreneur myself, I know that promoting your product without any marketing experience can be challenging. That’s why Yulia and I would like to share some marketing tips for aspiring Ecwid merchants:

1. Start small

It’s easy to get excited about your new business and start creating product variations, merchandise, samples, freebies, bundles, etc. But as a new business, you should always prioritize keeping costs low, your sales page simple and not overwhelming your to-do list. Having 100 items in 1 or 2 SKUs is a lot more manageable than trying to stay on top of a large multi-product inventory.

2. Pick a niche

Don’t try to be everything to everybody. What is the ONE THING you are going to focus on with your brand that will distinguish you from a broader market? How is your product special and who is it made for? At Ultimate 5 Squad, I am creating superhero books that book children’s confidence and expose them to protagonist characters of color.

3. Know your audience

Any purchase has a hierarchy of decision-makers — the buyer (usually breaks into multiple personas), the end-user, the influencer, etc. When you position your product or service you must remember to evaluate how the purchasing decision will be made and by whom. If you are selling children’s books, you should test separate messaging geared at moms, dads, grandmas, etc.

RJ sells books for children, so his messaging geared at parents and teachers

If you are selling a digital course on photography, you should consider different pain-points for beginner photographers vs. intermediate-level ones. All things require testing to identify who your best buyers are.

Also: 8 Different Shopper Types And How To Market To Them

4. Add value via your content strategy

Your social media presence can make or break your business these days. Don’t just post a sales pitch on your digital channels. ADD VALUE every day. Give free advice on your subject matter. Make how-to content. Create free downloads (which can help you build an email list of potential buyers). Host free digital events or webinars to get in front of more people. Collaborate with other creators to cross-promote your product. The more value you give to your prospects and followers, the more likely they are to buy your full product.

5. Build credibility

As a new business, you start from scratch, often with no reputation or credibility. That can deter many from trusting your product/service. There are many ways you can address this — here are a few you can start with:

  • Identify a few micro-influencers in your product niche and offer to send them your product/sample your service for free, then ask for video or written testimonials and permission to use that content. Ask them to also share it on their platforms to drive new traffic to your store.
  • Ask for feedback within a few days of delivering your product/service to the buyer. They are most excited about your brand and if they are happy, they will be willing to leave a review.
  • Integrate online reviews into your product pages, or setup a Google my Business page for your service brand where clients can rate your service.
  • Find opportunities to share your story via non-traditional media — blogs, podcasts, social media takeovers of brand pages, webinars, digital events in the age of COVID-19, etc.

More: 12 Ways to Inspire Confidence In Your Online Store’s New Customers

My Best Tip: Give and Communicate More

My formula for success is to give more than you take. Give more value, more value, more value! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Also, when replying to comments or questions on social media posts to potential customers, give thoughtful replies. By taking the time to reply to them, you help them and others understand what your brand is about.

Create Your Product and Start Selling Online

RJ’s story proves everyone can create and sell their products: you don’t need coding skills, a huge budget, or a special diploma. What you do need is a great idea and confidence that you can make a difference with your product.

Many other Ecwid merchants noticed a need for a product and decided to create it themselves. For example, Angela Brathwaite was inspired to create a unique item for women while recovering from surgery. Learn how she patented and manufactured it on our podcast!

If you also want to create and sell a product for a market need, check out our blog posts focused on this subject specifically:

Have a product already? You may need some practical tips and instructions that we put together in this e-commerce blueprint:

Ecwid E-commerce Business Blueprint

Your guide to launching an e-commerce business from choosing a niche to growing your sales

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Subscribe to the Ecwid blog to read more inspiring stories like this one, and if you have a story of your own, don’t hesitate to share it in comments!

About the author
Anastasia Prokofieva is a content writer at Ecwid. She writes about online marketing and promotion to make entrepreneurs’ daily routine easier and more rewarding. She also has a soft spot for cats, chocolate, and making kombucha at home.
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